[Monday Reading] The Enchanting World of Faeries

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.

I have also written a post about my thoughts on the Accelerated Reader Program.

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I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.

Does the Accelerated Reader Program help develop Lifelong Readers? 

Widget courtesy of the ever-talented Iphigene.

Widget courtesy of the ever-talented Iphigene.

Fats, one of the GatheringBooks ladies, has just launched our new bimonthly theme yesterday: Goddesses, Fairies, Spirit-Stars, and Celestial Beings. Special thanks again to Iphigene for creating this widget.

Let me open our current theme with a few notes about fairies and their ilk.

IMG_9390The Fairy Catalogue

Created By: Sally Gardner 
Published byDolphin Paperbacks, 2001
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I remembered buying this book for my daughter when she was not even a year old. And so this book has been with me for nearly twelve years. This Fairy Catalogue has everything you could ever want to know about faeries: from designing the perfect fairy frock, to selecting the perfect wand and just the right glitter of fairy wings, and not to forget fairy shoes which are touted to be the fastest in all of Fairyland:

Every stitch is sealed in by magic to give added bounce. Choose the softest swansdown slippers, rainbow boots or rose petal dancing shoes to lift you off your feet.

You can also choose your own fairy depending on your whims and desires – it even includes the fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is also a smorgasbord of beauty products, a royal love story, and a selection of fairy habitats and dream houses.

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I also especially liked wedding bells and magical spells where a lovestruck reader can choose from a selection of Sleeping Beauty’s Wedding (held upon waking up, complete with a perfect wedding breakfast) to Snow White’s Wedding held of course in a forest clearing on a snowy winter’s day. 

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This is a truly delightful book that would enchant a lot of fairy-lovers out there. The beautiful collages and the painstakingly-crafted artwork and charming wit of Sally Gardner should be more than enough to make this one a keeper.

The Book of Faeries: A Guide to the World of Elves, Pixies, Goblins and other MagicIMG_9388 Spirits

Written By: Francis Melville
Published by: Quarto Publishing, 2002. Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I bought this book from Bras Basah for 2.50. Such a bargain for a beautifully illustrated catalogue of elves, pixies, faeries and other magic spirits. The book is divided neatly into six sections. In the Introduction, Melville discusses in detail the origins of faery and how one can enter the faery realm. Traditional beliefs stemming from Christian, Islamic and even in some Jewish traditions note that the faeries were heavenly beings caught in the crossfire between God and Satan:

The faery tribes are supposed to be lesser angels that somehow managed to get caught up on the wrong side and were evicted from heaven with the fallen angels. Those faeries who were not embittered by their fall from grace made the most of their new habitat and delighted in the fascinating workings of nature.

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Other theories were likewise explored such as the pygmy natives and the Devic nature spirits. The section on Elementals and Nature Spirits include detailed descriptions of undines and sylphs,

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gnomes, flower faeries, fauns & satyrs, and my favourite: tree spirits.

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Apart from a detailed description, the author also shares how one can go looking for these faeries and how to best find them in the forests or seas. The second chapter talks about faery helpers: those who make themselves useful in people’s homes or play mischievous tricks on homemakers who fail to leave them cookies or a glass of milk. There are a few new ones that particularly caught my eye such as Spae Wives who are believed to be native to Iceland. They kind of reminded me of Tolkien’s enchanting elves.

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In Scandinavia and other Nordic lands, a spar wife is a seer, a wise woman skilled in the art of divination (the word spar means prophesy or farseeing). Spae wives are highly respected members of society. Also known as volvas, these Viking female shamans act as both priestesses and healers.

The Spae Wives actually remind me of babaylans and catalonans in the Philippines. Then there is Clay Mother commonly found among Native Americans:

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The third chapter deals with tricksters and seducers. It includes the legendary Puck, maker of mischief, who was made immortal by Shakespeare in his Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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There are also leprechauns, gremlins, goblins, and pixies included amongst the tricksters. I was enamoured though by the seducers such as the Snow Queen who figured a great deal in the Chronicles of Narnia and the sirens who lead sailors to their doom. I am also happy to discover new ones such as Nicker, a male seducer who is described to be a deadly water faery of Norse tradition: “He is said to be a wonderful, passionate, and caring lover, but can turn murderous when scorned.”

There is also Morgan le Fay, or Morgana who is a powerful figure in Arthurian mythology:

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It is also my first time to know about Lamia from Greek mythology who was once a beautiful maiden turned into a hideous monster when Zeus eventually grew tired of her.

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The fourth chapter is all about angelic faeries, divine creatures who help those in need such as The Blue Faery,

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genies, and tooth faeries. There are also unfamiliar ones (at least to me) such as Befind a special faery in Celtic tradition; Peris once believed to be the offspring of fallen angels; and The Angirasah celebrated in the Vedas, the ancient sacred texts in India. There are also the Erotes who are winged messengers of the god Eros, commonly known as Cupids during Valentine’s Day with their slings and arrows; and there is Lauma a woodland faery in Baltic mythology who is said to be a guardian spirit to orphaned children.

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The fifth chapter is all about rituals which would help one ‘see’ faeries, special recipes that would help attract faeries to your home, as well as a detailed description of faery herbs, and faery trees. There is also a list of references found at the end of the book that is worth investigating. Gorgeous book, this one.

Currently Reading…

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My research on faeries, gods and goddesses, is enhanced by my nighttime reading of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story which I finished reading last night. For those who have seen the movie, it has not even begun to scratch the surface of the entire book, probably just one-third of the entire narrative which becomes convoluted and fantastical in each chapter, with stories within stories. Will be starting to read Sherman Alexie’s novel this week. Anyone among you who has read these two books?

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A-Z Book Challenge Update: 26 of 26

(F, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y Z) 

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 225, 226 (150)

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

21 Comments on [Monday Reading] The Enchanting World of Faeries

  1. You had a wonderful reading week! Wish you the same for this week!!

    Here is my post.

  2. Those faerie books look wonderful. The illustrations are amazing! :) Enjoy reading this week.

    Check out what I’m reading this week.

  3. Thanks post posting The Monster Returns, I just loved Jeremy Draws a Monster. I have to find a copy of The Monster Returns.

  4. The illustrations in the Melville book are amazing – lush and gorgeous.

  5. wow – such gorgeous images! My daughter was obsessed with fairies when she was younger and we have many titles around our house on a fairy theme. Many of these are new to me.

    • Hi Carrie. I agree, the images are truly beautiful. While I found the writing of Melville a little bit on the kooky side, I was fascinated by the artwork.

  6. Love those fairy books. I’ll look through my books-I think I have still another that is rather like yours, tells all about them, etc. Yes, I’ve read both the books, The Neverending Story and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, and recommended them often Myra. Both marvelous in quite different ways. My fantasy readers gobbled up the first one, and loved that it is so detailed. Others wanting a more realistic story thought Alexie’s book was great, too. You’ve picked some good ones!

  7. I see you know Linda and Tara. Wow! Small world. I’ll be having dinner with both of them in Boston next week. :)

  8. bluestockingthinking // November 13, 2013 at 9:44 am // Reply

    One of my favorite movies of all time is The Neverending Story, but I’ve not read the book! I think I need to read it this summer when I can take a break from my committee reading. But first, is it a jumble of unpredictable things like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making? I don’t really enjoy stories that are too jumbly… :)

    • Hi there. It does resemble a little bit of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with episodic chapters that resemble vignettes or short stories. There is a thread that is running across all of them, and it is beautifully written, but it’s an acquired taste. I know that one of my book club kids (9 year old) did not enjoy it and dropped her reading; while two of my 11 year old girls (also members of my book club) enjoyed it greatly. We will be doing our discussion this Sunday, I shall update you.

  9. Love your new theme! Beautiful pictures from books! :)

  10. I really should read The Neverending Story. I remember teh movie and a customer was just talking about it the other day. I think there’s also a sequel.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing The Fairy Catalogue! I hopped on to Amazon and ordered one for my niece for Christmas :-)

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